Georgia Lederman: Third Party Investment and Local Empowerment: Attempts at Equilibrium

We have just received one million dollar. We have decided to create a peacemaking institution called Peace+ (pronounced peace-plus). Peace+ will address the many different domains in which peacemaking is necessary, including, “ecological, personal, institutional, political and social domains” (In class 4/26). As Peace+ budgets its one million dollars, we will follow this guiding principle: “International action should open up space for local action” (Chesterman qtd. Philpott, 137). Peace+ hopes to invest in a Track II model of peacemaking, inspired by Search for Common Ground; we will emphasize the primacy of the individual, we will go beyond institutions and formalities, and we will show an investment in human agency (In class 4/14). Finally, as we distribute our finances, we will be wary of Simon Chesterman’s warning that donors’ wishes often influence the decisions of peacemaking programs (Philpott 125). In this report we will discuss economic concerns, art, education, diplomacy and dialogue and media and communications. In summary, Peace+ hopes to use its expertise to empower local communities to take on the task of peacebuilding. We believe we can best achieve this goal with the following distribution[1]:

15% fundraising ($150,000)

15% researching and developing local economies, local business, job creation ($150,000)

15% arts sponsorship ($150,000)

15% education, international and domestic ($150,000)

20% dialogue facilitation ($200,000)

10% media and communications ($100,000)

10% misc. ($100,000)

I. Economic Concerns

One common obstacle to peacemaking and peace preservation is economic instability in conflicted-afflicted areas. Jamsheed Choksy, esteemed professor in many disciplines, explains the importance of economic support in the story of Cyrus the Great, esteemed ruler of ancient Persia (In class 4/7). Because of the importance of economic stability, it is tempting to provide resources to conflict-afflicted communities. However, Simon Chesterman admonishes peacemaking institutions about being careful in the face of finances; many peacemaking programs are funded by third parties, which means that the funds are supply-driven, not demand-driven. This becomes problematic when funding becomes insufficient and undependable. According to the Brahimi Report, missions without adequate resources should not be created at al (Philpott 125-127). Thus, economic stability is important. Peace+ will work towards self-sustaining economics—building partnerships between communities, helping businesses expand employment opportunities etc. To address these economic concerns, Peace+ has allotted 30% of its budget. 15% goes to fundraising and 15% on researching and developing local businesses.

II. Art Sponsorship

Peace+ will designate 20% of its budget for investing in cultural, religious and peace-inspiring art projects. Inspired by the Abraham path, conceptualized and realized by William Ury, Peace+ recognizes the critical nature of art in shifting hearts and attitudes. At each peacemaking cite, internationally and domestically, Peace+ will hold a salaried position titled, “Art Sponsorship Research Director”. This position will be responsible of funding developing artists, and will be responsible for creating a platform for their work. Examples of eligible projects range anywhere from Caligraffiti to Knit-Bombing.[2]

III. Education

Peace+ appreciates the importance of education initiatives in peacemaking. Because Educative Initiatives are a comprehensive task, Peace+ will invest in partnerships with organizations like the Meridian Center. The Meridian Center provides trainings, exhibitions, and exchanges to educate the world about the struggles and stories of foreign community (Meridian website). Because of the importance of careful budgeting, Peace+ will not seek out its own exhibitions and trainings. However, because of a profound belief in the importance of education as a means to shift attitudes and hearts, Peace+ will dedicate 15% of its funds to educational initiatives undertaken at trusted peacemaking institutions.

IV. Discussion and Dialogue

One of the most critical components of peacemaking is dialogue and discussion. Peace+ acknowledges the importance of creating and developing shared terminology when engaging with two parties in conflict (In class 4/19). For example, many religious scholars emphasize the importance of acknowledging differences in religious communities and then deliberately searching for common conceptions (In class 4/19). For example, Catherine Cornille and Christopher Conway present an example of the type of interreligious consensus that is possible through dialogue: if one paints the prophet Muhammad as a prophet of light, Christians can see familiarity between the Christian and Muslim prophetic discourse (Cornille). To accomplish its mission of facilitating and engaging in dialogue, Peace+ will follow the model of the Meridian International Center, engaging with a “cross-section of emerging leaders”, including corporations, governments, Diplomatic Corps, NGOs, Foundations and Individuals (Meridian Webpage).

Through interventions in religious communities where hostility is taught, Peace+ will try to perpetuate the idea that a “hostel believer” is like “dry water” (In class 4/18) In other words, the deeper our faith, the more we will be living in harmony with others. Peace+ will facilitate dialogue about both the inner and outer benefits of forgiveness (In class 4/26). Of course, the Peace+ representative would be knowledgeable about the community with which they engaged, and they would be able to reveal a school of forgiveness that would appeal to the specificity of the given community. For example, the Peace+ representative would be knowledgeable about schools of forgiveness, such as civility, acceptance, co-humanity, pardon, process, etc., and would facilitate dialogue accordingly (In class 4/26). Depending on context, the representative would likely have to go beyond common American conceptions of the importance of a “Liberal Tradition”, meaning justice, human rights, democracy, etc (Inclass 4/5/16). In other words, the Peace+ representatives would be aware of the shortcomings of a strictly “Liberal” notion of Peacemaking. Peace+ has allotted 20% of its budget to dialogue and discussion, because it believes that peacemaking depends upon collaboration, and establishing common ground through exchanges.  V. Media and Communication

Peace+ values the role of media and communications. We will hire advanced professionals to lead our social media and Internet presence. Connected to the rationale behind education and dialogue, Peace+ is influenced by SFCG’s dedication to spreading its message of peace through the media. We hope to glorify forgiveness and vulnerability in our publications and to highlight the narratives of traditionally marginalized communities.           For this end, Peace+ has allocated 10% of its budget to media and communications.

VI. Misc.

Other considerations include ecological projects, and analysis of political trends. One undeniable shared concern for all of humanity is our planet. In keeping with SFCG’s search to find common concerns, Peace+ will invest in educational programs nationally and abroad to inform people of the severity of climate change, and the benefit to working together internationally to come up with solutions. Finally, Peace+ hopes to actively work against a Choksy’s conception of American political thinkers. Choksy claims: “American politics is current-centered”, meaning we tend to overlook lessons from history (In class 4/7).

Conclusion

Though Peace+ hopes to redirect educational practices that appear to usurp individuals of rights, or practices that perpetuate stereotyping and harmful prejudice, Peace+ is committed to the avoidance of cultural imperialism. For this reason, scholarship and research is an importance part of Peace+’s mission. Peace+ will use a significant sum to study the religion of local culture with whom it hopes to work. Peace+ will invest time and energy working with local religious officials to interrogate practices that might be problematic. Influenced by Choksy, Peace+ believes that institutions need to invest time and energy developing trust between governments, governing bodies, and the people. Peace depends on teaching individuals “how to trust neighbors and trust authorities… To establish peace, people need to live without fear” (In class 4/7).

Let us leave the reader with poetic inspiration:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing 
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

—Rumi

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Salaries for personnel involved in given category are taken out of the given percentage.

[2] Knitbombing refers to an prank, practiced across the U.S.: anonymous knitters cover public spaces with colorful creations when no one is around. The result is surprise beauty and humor that can serve to elevate the mood and morale of any onlooker.